Friday, July 7, 2017

Marlys Lundberg

The Burial Liturgy for 
Marlys Lundberg
(Sept. 18, 1927 - June 10, 2017)
Hanson-Runsvold Funeral Home
Fargo, North Dakota
Friday, July 7, 2017

As I said at the beginning of the service, it is an honor for me to officiate at this service. Although I was Marlys’s priest at St. Stephen’s, I considered her more than a parishioner. She is someone I considered a true friend.

St. Stephen’s was an important place to Marlys. She was very faithful in her attendance.  I remember well how Lowell would drive her to church, drop her off at the door and then be waiting for her after church.

And that was pretty much all I knew of Marlys until September of 2010. On the twentieth of that month, her son Tracy died very suddenly. For me personally, it was a very difficult month. On September 14, I had lost my father very suddenly. And so when Tracy died, I think I was still in a bit of shock in general in my life.

When I shared this news with Marlys that day, she amazed me with how she reacted. Although she was in mourning herself, although she was in much pain over the death of Tracy, Marlys was so compassionate and caring to me, even despite her own pain. That always impressed me.

Two months later, Marlys was dealt another blow with the death of her son Kory.

It was during all of this that Marlys and I really bonded and became good friends. And it was during this time that I realized we had so much in common.

Namely, our politics. I came from a long line of very liberal Democrats, namely through my mother and grandmother. And that, let me tell you, pleased Marlys to no end.  In our many conversations that we had over the years, she would regal me with stories of local and national politics in the 1960s, stories of Bobby Kennedy and North Dakota politicians.

She also shared with me some of her heart aches, including the sudden death of her first husband, Stanley, in a car accident in south Fargo in November of 1966, and how hard it was for her following that death.

There was no doubt that Marlys knew true heartache in her life. She had cried her share of tears in life.

But, what was truly amazing about her was that all those deep pains were not evident when you saw her. She always had a smile, a sparkle in her eyes. She was always alive—in a very real sense.  She was always caring, always compassionate, always concerned.  She was a person I genuinely looked forward to seeing and talking with.

And when Lowell died, even though he was a member at the church next door to St. Stephen’s, through a bit of serendipity, I ended up doing that funeral service as well, which also was a great honor.

It was a very sad day for me and for many people at St. Stephen’s when Marlys moved to California shortly afterward.

But I made sure she was still included in the life of St. Stephen’s. And I always enjoyed receiving notes from her.

And so, as I have said, I am very grateful to be able to officiate at this service, to help all of us in saying good bye to this truly wonderful person.

I will miss her dearly, as I’m sure all of us here today will.  But, as I have discovered in my career, people like Marlys Lundberg do not pass so easily away into “the mists,” so to speak. Her presence, her strength, her grace, the convictions she instilled in her family and friends—those are things that live on in a very real and wonderful way. And is those things that we celebrate today, that we give thanks to God for, that we promise to embody in our own lives.

The greatest honor we can give Marlys is by truly embodying those ideals she held so firmly in our own lives. When I think about the strength with which she faced the hardships of life, I am still amazed. Which is why this reading from Isaiah I think speaks so loudly to me today.

Your sun shall no more go down,
   or your moon withdraw itself;
for the Lord will be your everlasting light,
   and your days of mourning shall be ended. 

For Marlys, her days of mourning are ended. Sadly, for us, our days are not. We will miss her dearly. The world without Marlys Lundberg is just a bit different.

But for those of us who knew her and loved her, I can tell you, she would not want us mourning too loudly. She would not want us looking at our hands through tear-stained eyes.

She would want us each to live and live fully. She would want us to work for righteousness and justice and all those things she held so dearly in her life.

So, let us do just that. Let us continue to do that work that Marlys did so well in her life. Let us strive for peace and justice and righteousness in any way we can in our lives. When we do that, we will continue to celebrate Marlys and all she truly was.

I am very grateful today. I am grateful for Marlys and for her presence in my life. I will miss her. I will miss that smile and that twinkle in her eyes and that fiery spark of life.

But I will not forget her. Let none of us forget her. Let us be thankful for her example to us.  Let us be thankful for all that she has taught and continues to teach us. And let us be grateful for all she has given us in our own lives.

Into paradise may the angels lead you, Marlys.
At your coming may the martyrs receive you, and bring you into the holy city Jerusalem.

May God’s perpetual light shine forever upon you, and may your memory be forever blessed. 

No comments: